How to cash in on eCommerce this Christmas – Part 1

Date: 7th October 2014
Author: Deri Jones

Christmas past…learning from the stats…and the mistakes

Last year’s shopping trends over Christmas were monitored by IBM, and were recently published in a report “UK Online Retail Christmas Shopping Trends”. It makes for some interesting reading and impressive stats!


The UK’s introduction of Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales promotions has been a roaring success; Consumers have flocked to retail websites. Cyber Monday 2013 led to an online sales increase of over 30% year on year. Black Friday was even more successful with sales 9% higher than Cyber Monday, accounting for over 45% of all online traffic on the day.

Of special note are the figures for mobile which are now accounting for a third of sales, having grown a remarkable 90%+ over the previous 12 months – almost certainly driven by the uptake of tablets.

Don’t get tripped up

The massive increase of traffic and therefore potential sales cannot be ignored, but there are certain pitfalls that companies needlessly fall into. Our 12 Tips of Christmas has been written to ensure you don’t get tripped up. Here we highlight some of the more common issues, which in each case have also received some high profile bad press. The first three below are also hot issues with the move to mobile browsing and shopping:

  •  Increased demand: Taking the sheer volume of traffic into consideration

Some organisations still do not take load testing seriously enough, as the DVLA can probably testify too. There are testing programmes but they are often far too simplistic and do not replicate true journeys or demand. Coming in at No1 of our 12 Tips of Christmas, you cannot skimp on testing! You have to ensure it is truly realistic, comprehensive and undertaken early enough to ensure smooth running on the day.

  • New updated content: New promotional pages

Adding new content or redesigning may be a way of keeping things fresh, but as we have seen from companies like M&S it doesn’t always have the desired impact.

Web performance monitoring would have alerted the issues before their customers did! Your testing should encompass the whole user journey from start to finish. So is your new content also optimised for mobiles and tablets?

  • Speed of the process: Ease-of-use

One of the reasons why customers do not fulfil orders online is that the checkout process becomes too long winded. This is even more critical with mobile devices. Another bug bear is selecting the various colour, sizes and style options to be confronted with “out of stock” after going through several stages of the process. Boden do a better job than many at avoiding this pitfall. They redesigned the selection process, to make it easier and speedier to see what sizes and colours are in stock.

  • Dynamic pricing: Updating the sales price

There may be many dynamic pricing models, but the simplest one (i.e. updating sale price) can give you the biggest problem –  as we have seen from some high profile cases in recent years (e.g, Screwfix), a simple way to entice customers can turn in to huge ‘own goal’, costing you money and your reputation. Setting-up intelligent price discrepancy alerts would have unearthed the problem long before customers made off with unforeseen “bargains”. As the examples above prove, there have been high profile failures. In most cases before the issues became the centre of public ridicule, using the right tools would have highlighted the problems to overcome. The growing importance of tablet/mobile-based browsing and shopping means there are a few more items for your check list.

Take a look at our eCommerce: 12 Tips of Christmas and ensure you don’t have the next website grabbing all the wrong headlines.

Download Christmas eCommerce Tips

Read Part 2 of this blog – Christmas future…12 Tips of Christmas.